Thursday, May 28, 2015

Training: Force On Force and Airsoft

Years ago before airsoft became the “thing” in force on force training, the military adopted this training as a realistic way to train. I had gone through the shooting house and that was heart stopping as it was, but add to that someone shooting back and it became a whole new game. I know that this training is not the end-all way of force on force, but I think there are some things you can learn with airsoft that you can’t learn anywhere else. There are those who feel airsoft is not very real past the first shot. After doing this training myself I can understand their point. The gun does not function the same as a real gun. Shot placement is easier because of no muzzle rise and no recoil. But the realism of shooting from cover under real pressure is priceless. After I was done my heart was racing and I was really sweating even though I did pretty well. I think I gripped the gun more than I would have on the range but my aiming and shooting from different positions was realistic training.
Many courses out there will tell you their airsoft training is the best in force on force. I think they need to re-evaluate to ensure the proper skills are getting through. Otherwise it can be just an elaborate game. I think both students and instructors need to realize the limitations of this type of training. It is realistic to a certain point, but then shooting is still doing things right over and over for muscle memory. I think a good combination should be the norm to give a well balanced training.
Benefits of Airsoft Guns
1:1 replica of your real gun. You can buy airsoft guns that look and feel like your real gun. They’ll fit in your holster. You can also add real-life tactical attachments to them.
Provides near-realistic live-fire experience. Gas blow-back handguns do a good job simulating firing a real handgun. Great for practicing gun manipulation and drawing.
Low cost. This was the big selling point for me. A box of 50 real rounds can set you back $20. I can buy a bag of 3,500 airsoft BBs for $7. The low cost of airsoft allows you to experience a simulated live fire session for a fraction of the cost.
Safe. While you should treat an airsoft gun as if it were a real gun and take the same precautions as you would when practicing, you can rest easy that a BB won’t shoot through your garage wall and kill somebody.
You can do it anywhere. Instead of having to trek 20 miles to the gun range a few times a week, I can go to my garage every evening and practice to my heart’s content.
Provides opportunity for affordable, safe force-on-force training. If you want to practice real, force-on-force tactical scenarios, airsoft can help provide that experience. You can fire it at your buddy pretending to be a bad guy in your house and all he’ll feel is a sting (make sure he’s wearing eye protection though).
Limitations of Airsoft Guns
Not identical to real firearms. Let’s not kid ourselves. While airsoft guns provide a decent simulation of firing a real gun, there’s no way it can replicate it exactly. The trigger pull on airsoft guns aren’t the same as real guns, the recoil is nowhere near the same, and the noise level isn’t the same. You also really can’t practice malfunctions or reloading that well with an airsoft gun. Finally, there’s just a “feeling” you can’t simulate with airsoft. I just feel more alert and on edge when firing a real gun. With good reason — I know that pulling the trigger can have lethal results. I just can’t replicate that feeling when I’m firing my airsoft gun.
Because of this limitation, it’s important that you don’t completely replace live fire training with airsoft. You should continue to get to the range as much as you can to fire your real gun. I like to think of airsoft as a step above dry fire training and a step below live fire. It’s just another tool in your firearm training toolbox.
Some out there will not agree with this evaluation. Some don’t see much benefit in airsoft. I have trained with professionals with airsoft and see great benefits. I no longer do this training but would love to again. I do, however, have a replica that I use to drive fire every day. I think it’s giving the edge that I’m looking for a fraction of the cost.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket though, there is nothing that will simulate what you can do in a run and gun or at the range.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

How To Achieve Security At Church

“Suspect killed by police after shooting at Mormon stake center”
May 24 2015
“Mormon bishop fatally shot in California chapel; gunman killed”
Aug. 30 2010
“Woman shot to death outside church”
January 6th, 2008
“Police: 2 Shot In Parking Lot Of West Side Mormon Temple”
February 26, 2013
“Woman shot outside of church in South Salt Lake”
October 17, 2014
“2 Shot Dead In Mormon Library”
April 16, 1999
“Son of judge killed himself in Las Vegas LDS temple courtyard”
Nov. 20 2013
“Mormon temple parking-lot shooting: Man who killed wife dies, too”
April 12, 2013
“Police shoot armed man outside LDS temple”
December 26, 2010
These headlines are starting to be more and more common. What does this mean? Is there a conspiracy against Mormons? No, I don’t think so. But what it does mean is that we as members of the Church must be more vigilant and not so lax the way we are at church. Most members feel very safe at church. I believe they should feel relatively safe and secure in an LDS building. Most people there are there to work or worship and are peaceful. The problem is, churches in general used to be a safe haven and a place of refuge. They are mostly, but from the above headlines we can see that there is cause for greater situational awareness.
Most of the incidents are pointed toward specific people and most have been outside of the building. It would not take much for that to change. The problem comes with the sign outside “Visitors Welcome”. I don’t think that should be taken down, but that means there may be people we don’t know outside and inside our buildings. Most chapels have multiple entrances and exits. I know that this can be controlled somewhat with doors kept locked, but I know that would be limited.
This means our security is up to us as leaders and members. The Church’s policy on carrying a gun is that it’s not “appropriate.” In Utah, the law backs that policy up. Outside of Utah it depends on the state laws. You should follow laws and follow the spirit on policy. I know that many law enforcement in my ward carry but because of their shift work, I can’t depend on them. I do not advocate carrying in church, but I do advocate following the spirit in this thing.
At the very least we should keep security in mind and be aware of what’s going on around us. There are weapons other than guns. I always carry my tactical pen and a knife. But I’m afraid those weapons are only good if I can close and engage. A gun can reach out and touch someone. My wife has practiced and had our kids practice escaping the chapel if the need arises using the pews as concealment. That’s not a bad idea. Know how to get out of the room and the building. Always have a cell phone, many church buildings are getting rid of the hall phone.
Leaders should be aware of what is going on in the building and even outside the building. Assigning “security guards” for the parking lot may be a good idea. If there is another ward in your building this could be assigned to them and vice versa when they are in meetings. If this is the answer, find someone with some law enforcement or security experience to brief the guards on what to do and what to look for. Also, ensure they have a cell phone and know the difference between concealment and cover.
I think that there should be some training regarding being a priesthood holder at a women’s event. Most men think if they are in the building that they are doing enough. I would have one point of entry and be near that door. At the very least he should have a cell phone. Depending on the area and the time, women should be escorted to their cars. Maybe two men should be assigned. That’s my thinking anyway.
We can ignore the headlines at the beginning of this post or not. Being a sheep has never appealed to me. There is evil in this world and it does touch the lives of good people. If you agree be active in trying to get others to see the importance of preparedness in this area. If you don’t agree raise your head and say “Baaaaa…”
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cost of Stupidity: Law Enforcement and Us

I got a call from a friend of mine. He has decided to retire from the field. He’s turned 53 and says he can’t “run with the boys” anymore. He served 22 years in the military on a joint force special operations team. He was working diplomatic security for the government in the field. He’s been shot at by some of the best and worst in the world. He told me about an instance that helped him to leave the field and start instructing.
His team was assigned a diplomat from an unnamed country while in the country of Jordan. The diplomat they were protecting was not an American diplomat. They had traveled to 3 locations in Jordan and were moving back to the 2 car motorcade to return to the consulate when they were approached by 2 kids. After a team member had stopped the kids about 30 feet away and speaking to them the oldest of the two (about 10 and 12 years old) pulled out what looked like a gun. Both kids were killed. Upon search the bodies it was found that the gun pulled out was not real. But the younger boy did have a real gun and each had 2 live hand grenades in their coat pockets. They meant to do harm. My friend said he had killed children before but they clearly had a rifle and were shooting at him. This is the first time he’d ever seen a fake gun anywhere in the middle-east. He didn’t know what the point of the fake gun was but he had enough and had made the decision to accept a teaching spot that had been offered to him numerous times.
I asked him if he felt that the latest police shootings were anything like what he’d experienced. The reports he’s heard were pretty similar he thought. The difference was that the location my friend was in was known for violence on a large scale. He was also on a team of 6 men highly trained in exactly what they were doing. They had battle rifles and not just side arms. His only mission was to protect the principle and not to protect anyone or anything else. A police officer has a responsibility to the community. They are often alone and must make a decision very fast. He said that their situation had happened many times in that part of the world. Mostly kids had bombs strapped to them with remote detonators. My friend also said that in the middle east it’s not unusual to be approached by combatants so they are expecting it all the time.
We talked at great length about what kind of time you have to make a decision to press that trigger. He said to me 2 seconds is the response time. If you want to stay alive you may even cut that in half to 1 second. At my request he researched several police shootings that have been in the news lately.
I also researched many of these incidents and mainstream media (MSM) reports a very biased side of these tragic events. We get to hear the public outrage (especially when race is added to the story) and how trigger happy law enforcement has become. They never focus on the responsibility of an officer to protect others and their-selves. I’m not saying every shooting is the fault of the victim or the police, but what MSM reports seems to be slanted toward the poor victims.
I am not, nor have I ever been, in law enforcement. I have the utmost respect for what law enforcement is faced with and what they do. I know many personally. I know they want to come home to their families. I know the last thing that they want to deal with, legally, emotionally, mentally, is killing another human being. They have taken an oath that most of them live up to. So it bothers me when those who have never been in a life/death situation can spout off moronic criticism after the fact.
Having someone point a weapon at you with the intent of doing you harm or killing you is something everyone who makes those judgements should experience. I’m not trying to defend anyone’s behavior, but if you point a gun, ANY gun, at a police officer I’m not sure what you expect the outcome to be! I don’t care if the gun is an orange plastic squirt gun! Point a stick, shaped like a gun, at someone in the dark and you have a 50-50 chance of them seeing it as a stick. I’m fed up with the stupidity of some people or organizations who think we can live without our law enforcement. They have no idea how much crime, violence, and mayhem our police have stopped! Just the sight of a police car helps to protect citizens. Have I ever met a jerk policeman? Yes I have. But just because I have a problem with whether I stopped at a stop sign or not, and how a cop is talking to me doesn’t mean I think we’d be better off without their service. I know there is lots of emotion in tragedy that ends up in death. When someone points something at you there is only a second to identify what’s pointed at you, and another second or two to shoot. If you don’t, you may not go home that day.
I also have great compassion for someone who lost a loved one through something so senseless. I’d like to think I would put blame where it belongs. Teach your children to not point a paintball marker, airsoft gun (these are especially real looking), or anything at someone who is clearly not playing. Don’t give the police or anyone else any sign that you may be a threat to them. In Jordan, Iraq, or Afghanistan children kill soldiers. In certain cities children are involved in gangs and may shoot you. So understand that being a child is not enough of a reason to stand down and let down your guard.
Children should be taught to trust police. They should be able to know that a police officer is going to protect them. Parents and adults can teach this by example.
We need to do our best to support good law enforcement. Too many good officers are quitting or retiring early. We need these good police to train the young bunch and to keep us on the straight and narrow. Good police need to be there to keep the bad apples out. But every officer needs to know they can go home at night. It’s bad enough we pay them little, but it’s inexcusable that we don’t support them. There will always be a time you need a good policeman.
I’m sure someone will accuse me of blindly supporting the police, but that's not the case. I don't blindly support anyone, especially not agents of the government. There's a lot to dislike about our criminal justice system as a whole and that includes the way policing happens in America...but it's also true that at the root of a lot of the stuff that makes headlines is a decent human being trying to deal with a truly awful situation.
Our entire system of government is based on the idea that the people who show up to the polls are reasonable adults. If We The People act like a bunch of spoiled kids it descends into chaos and madness pretty quick. Reasonable adults require facts before making judgments, recognize the difference between good and evil, and are inclined to give good guys the benefit of the doubt. Spoiled kids whip out the pitchforks and torches entirely on the basis of ridiculous allegations by liars and thugs.
This pattern cannot continue consequence free. You can't keep spitting on the people who keep the bad guys at bay and still enjoy the safety and comfort of a bad guy-free existence. Yes, folks, there are evil people among us. Ugly, savage brutes for whom unjustified violence is as reflexive as drawing breath. Call me "intolerant" if it makes you feel better, but I'll remind you I wasn't the one murdering cartoonists in France or gunning down police officers in New York .
I don’t want anyone to lose a loved one, but by the same token, I don’t want to see another funeral of a police officer. Their job is thankless and we take their service for granted until we really need them. They are truly sheep-dogs in a world of wolves and sheep. Let’s try to stop a tragedy from ever happening again. Remember, law enforcement that are involved in a shooting like this are people too. They have to live with killing another person even if it was justified.
There really are good guys and bad guys in this world and increasingly elements of our society are insisting on persecuting the good guys and giving the bad ones the benefit of every doubt. The cost of that stupidity is too high, folks
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day

Today is the day after Memorial Day. Do we still remember?
I spent Memorial Day with three warriors. One was a retired A10 pilot. The other a current A10 pilot, and the last a current pilot, all combat veterans. It was interesting to listen to their stories and their memories of distant lands. To top it off, their wives were there too. They spoke of the things they experienced, trying to keep the home fires burning, raising kids, and being there for their warrior. I am not a pilot but have been around flight lines and fighting aircraft my entire adult life.
I know Memorial Day was yesterday. I hope you were able to remember those warriors who did not come home to their families. They gave us a great gift at a horrible price. I am privileged to have a long line of ancestors who served in the military. My Father was in the second World War and my Grand Father was in the first World War. Fortunately for me they came back. I am grateful that they came back because I would not be here if they hadn’t. I also appreciate their honor.
I hope that you enjoyed your Memorial Day. I’m glad we have specific days to remember those who gave so much. I would hope we remember more often.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bikers, Police Protection, and Your Security

I went to a Panda Express the other day. My daughter really loves their food and wanted to go. As my wife and I were in line my daughter and son went to sit down. I wanted them to sit on a side of the table that would position their backs to the door. I wanted to sit facing the door. They didn’t hear and so while they were getting drinks I sat in their seat. My daughter was wondering why I took her seat. I told her I wanted to see the door. I had done this many times but I guess this time it was obvious that I wanted a particular seat. I told her I wanted to face the door. She asked why. So I discreetly told her “You want the person who’s armed to have a clear view of the doors and the room.” My daughter is young but not unacquainted with her Father’s quirks. She understood even though she made a face…
By now, you’ve probably heard about the biker gang fight and shootout that happened in Waco, Texas Sunday night. An argument in the bathroom turned into a brawl, which turned into a knife fight, which turned into a gun fight that has left 9 dead, so far, and 18 hospitalized, almost 200 in jail, and more than 100 “weapons” confiscated so far.
One of the crazy things is that there was more than a dozen uniformed law enforcement on the scene BEFORE the fight happened. The bikers just didn’t care.
A few days ago, if I would have told you that it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open for random shootouts between rival biker gangs, you might have thought I was crazy. And, to keep things in perspective, they’re incredibly rare. So are shootouts between rival drug gangs. So are riots after national championships. So are Islamic extremist shootings and bombings. So are riots after shootings and verdicts like Furguson and Baltimore. But what you need to remember is, if you find yourself in one of these situations, or something similar, the odds don’t matter anymore…because for you, the odds are 100%.
Situational awareness these days is not just for us nuts. It’s something everyone, husbands, wives, children, EVERYONE should practice.
(See Blogs Developing Situational Awareness Parts 1, 2, 3/4/2015 & 3 on 3/6/2015)
Staying ahead of possibilities is imperative. It could save your life or the lives of those you love. There is nothing wrong with leaving a restaurant, or an area, or a park, or a store, if you have a bad feeling about an individual or situation. Don’t hesitate. The worst that can happen is that you leave someplace before you intended to. The problem with being armed is you must access situations and remember that a riot or a group of scared people are a different kind of threat. Presenting your firearm because 10 people are running toward you is really not the appropriate response unless they have weapons and there is a clear and present danger. Responding to a mob is different to responding to a credible threat.
“Be aware of possible protected areas en route, such as secure business compounds.
If you are faced with a major civil disturbance or riot:
Avoid high-traffic city areas. Avoid major roads, city center parks, squares, and other high-traffic areas that are likely to attract rioters. If possible, move on less-traveled side streets to avoid crowds.
Stay calm and keep your emotions in check. Riots coincide with intense emotions that boil to the surface, but if you want to survive one you would be better off keeping your own emotions in check. In the heat of the moment, your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but try to think rationally and pursue safety in a methodical manner.
Avoid confrontation. Keep your head up and on a swivel, while at the same time looking for safe exit.
Stay on the sidelines. If you’re caught up in a riot, don’t take sides. Try to look as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to walls or other protective barriers if possible but try to avoid bottlenecks. These are areas where the crowd can be squashed into a tight place, such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and walls that go on for a long distance.
Walk. Don’t run. Don’t stop. If you run or go too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.
Don’t fight the flow. Riots are intense, with mob mentality causing normally peaceful people to abandon rational behavior. If you find yourself in the midst of an aggressive crowd, it could be hazardous to move against the flow, so go with it and slowly and cautiously move to the outside of the mob until it is possible to extract yourself by moving into a side street, or doorway.
Get inside and stay there. Typically riots happen in the streets, or somewhere outside. Being inside, especially in a large and sturdy structure, can be good protection to wait it out.
Keep your doors and windows locked. Don’t watch the riot from windows or porches. Move to inside rooms, where the danger of being hit by stones, bullets, or other is minimized. Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.
If you’re caught up in a car, stay calm. Remain inside the car unless your car becomes a focus for the riot, in which case it risks being torched, smashed or rolled over. Calmly and swiftly leave it behind and get to safety if that happens. If people seem to block your escape route; honk your horn, and carefully drive through or around them at a moderate speed, and they should get out of the way. Try not to stop. Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as a preparation to use the car as a weapon against them. DON’T DO IT.
Move away from the riot. The more time you spend in the midst of a riot, the greater your chance of being injured or killed. That said, in most circumstances it’s better to move out of a riot slowly. It can also be dangerous to move against a crowd, so go with the flow until you are able to escape into a doorway or up a side street or alley. Think of crowd movement like currents in the ocean. In a large riot, the crowd in the middle will be moving faster than the people on the perimeters. As such, if you find yourself in the middle, you should not try to move in a different direction, but follow the flow and slowly make your way to the outside. This requires patience in order to work properly.
Watch your footing in a mob situation. If you stumble and fall to the ground you’re likely to be trampled. This is especially dangerous in stadiums and other enclosed areas, where many unfortunate victims have been crushed to death. If you fall down, pull yourself up into a ball. Protect your face, ears and internal organs. In this position you are a smaller object that can be avoided. You will receive less damage if you are stepped on. If others trip on you they will help create a larger “pile” that rioters will avoid.”
This last information is from an article on this Blog titled: Riot Security and Safety 4/29/2015.
“Have a Plan of Action Based on What You Observe
You visit your favorite coffee shop and a bad guy with a gun decides to drop in as well. But because you’ve followed the principles above, you’re the first to see him as a threat. Great. But what are you going to do about it? Seconds matter here. You don’t have time to formulate a well-thought-out plan. What’s more, the stress of the event will muddle your thinking and decision-making.
In addition to asking yourself the baseline and anomaly questions every time you enter an environment, ask yourself a third question: “What would I do if I saw an anomaly?” In other words, come up with an action plan.
So let’s go back to the coffee shop example. Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.
Establish baselines. Look for anomalies. Have a plan. That’s what situational awareness comes down to. This awareness can be used as a preventive tactic. Animals are creatures of opportunity. They’ll typically only attack another creature if they look vulnerable. Lions will go after younger, sicker, or older gazelles because they’re easier to catch. The same goes with humans. Criminals are typically going to go after a person who looks vulnerable, whether the victim is physically weaker or will simply be easy to catch off guard.
Practicing situational awareness goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like an easy target. When you’re out and about, look alert. Get your nose out of your smartphone. When you’re walking back to your car at night, have your keys at the ready and constantly scan your surroundings. The less vulnerable you look, the less likely someone is going to mess with you.
Always carry a tactical flashlight and use it at nighttime. Having a light allows you to better observe in the darkness, but it can also act as a deterrent to would-be bad guys. Because law enforcement officers are usually the only ones shining flashlights down alleys and under cars, if you’re shining your light as you walk to your destination or back to your car, the bad guys are probably going to think you’re a cop and will likely just leave you alone. If worst comes to worst and you do end up getting jumped, you can use the tactical flashlight as a defensive tool by blinding your would-be attacker with the bright beam or even hitting him with the beveled edge that’s often built into the handle.
Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully cultivate. You want to get to the point that it’s just something you do without having to think about it. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly. Starting today, consciously remind yourself to look for entry/exit points whenever you enter a new building. Start observing people and establishing baselines and generating possible anomalies while you’re at work, at the gym, or at the mall. And then start coming up with action plans on what you would do in that specific situation if you see a possible threat. Don’t be paranoid, just mindful. Do that day in and day out, and situational awareness won’t be something you have to intentionally think about, just something you do naturally. Keep your head on a swivel, check your six, and keep your back to the wall.”
This is from an article on this Blog titled: Developing Situational Awareness Part 3, 3/6/2015.
I know, it’s a little crazy to quote yourself. Forgive me. I write a lot about this because I am passionate about trying to keep my family and I, and you, safe and secure. You can not depend on the police to keep you secure. You must take your safety and security into your own hands. It's our responsibility to Preside, Provide, and Protect for our families.
I was visiting my brother in another state the other day. He and his good wife took myself and my wife out to dinner. I noticed my brother was fighting me for the “gunfighter” seat. When I asked him about it he told me that working for the police department as long as he had (he works for the city now) taught him to take certain precautions. I like that.
Times have drastically changed from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Even from the 1990’s. Life is more dangerous out there even in this great country. Don’t fall victim to terrorism, crime, or accident. Be aware.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remembering Bill Jordan and Carlos Hathcock

Today is the birthday of two great shooters. Bill Jordan and Carlos Hathcock. Both were US Marines and both were experts in their fields.
Bill Jordan was born in 1911 in Louisiana, he served for over 30 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, while also serving as a US Marine during World War II and the Korean War. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a Colonel.
Jordan is credited with developing the 'Jordan' or 'Border Patrol' style of holster. The Jordan rig is rigid and unmoving, always holding the gun butt in precisely the same relationship to the gun hand. The revolver’s trigger guard is completely exposed, and the gun is held away from the back portion of the holster by a plug of leather, allowing the trigger finger to enter the guard as the draw is commenced. He also collaborated with Walter Roper in the design of wooden grips intended for heavy-caliber double action revolvers, which are now made by Herrett's Stocks as the "Jordan Trooper". Jordan always favored a double action revolver for law enforcement duties. He was largely responsible for convincing Smith and Wesson to adapt its medium K-frame series revolver to accommodate the .357 Magnum cartridge, resulting in the S&W Model 19 and 66 "Combat Magnum".
After retiring from the Border Patrol, Jordan served as a Southwestern Field Representative for the NRA. He wrote numerous articles on all aspects of firearms, as well as books such as No Second Place Winner, Mostly Huntin' and Tales of the Rio Grande.
Using a double action revolver, Bill Jordan was recorded drawing, firing and hitting his target in .27 of a second.
Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Norman Hathcock II is believed to have attained the highest number of recorded kills in the history of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Known to his fellow soldiers as “Gunny,” Hathcock had ninety-three confirmed kills as a sniper during the Vietnam War. Others have had more confirmed kills, but his actual total is estimated to be more than 300. He was also instrumental in establishing the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper School at Quantico, Virginia, and helped plan its syllabus.
Carlos Hathcock was born on May 20, 1942, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, the only child of Carlos and Agnes Hathcock. He was fond of firearms from an early age, playing with a non-operating war relic Mauser that his father had purchased in Europe and given to him when he was three, and later using a J. C. Higgins .22-caliber, single-shot rifle to hunt for food for his family when he was ten. His father was a railroad worker in North Little Rock and then became a welder in Memphis, Tennessee. After his parents separated, Hathcock was raised by his grandmother in Geyer Springs, Arkansas. He dropped out of high school when he was fifteen and worked for a Little Rock concrete constructor until 1959.
Hathcock enlisted in the USMC in Little Rock on May 20, 1959, his seventeenth birthday, with his mother’s written permission. While at boot camp in San Diego, he qualified at the expert level in marksmanship. In 1962, after being transferred to USMC Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, he set the record on the “A” course by shooting 248 out of a possible 250, a record that remained until the course was retired. In 1965, Hathcock reached the number of points necessary to be designated a Marine Corps Distinguished Sniper, and on August 26, 1965, he won the highly coveted 1,000-Yard National High-Power Rifle Championship, known as the Wimbledon Cup.
Hathcock’s most respected work as a sniper was done during his two tours of service in the Vietnam War. He set the record (since broken) for the longest documented sniper kill—a confirmed kill at 2,500 yards (1.42 miles) with a .50-caliber Browning rifle. He was also in a five-day engagement that devastated an entire company of Viet Cong soldiers. One of the most disciplined kills he made was accomplished by crawling 1,500 yards across an open field over the course of three sleepless days to take one successful shot at a Viet Cong general. (Skeptics have commented that no Viet Cong general is known to have died of gunshot wounds during the years Hathcock was in Vietnam.)
Perhaps Hathcock’s most legendary kill was when he shot an enemy sniper who was hunting him in order to claim the several-thousand-dollar bounty that the Viet Cong had placed on “White Feather,” a nickname that Hathcock had earned because he wore a small white feather in his cap. The kill was made without ever seeing his enemy; he saw a glint of light in the jungle foliage and gambled on taking the shot. The kill was confirmed, and the enemy’s sniper rifle was found next to the body with the scope hollowed out by the bullet that had traveled its length and entered into the enemy sniper’s eye. This shooting is widely imitated in movies, including The Sniper (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Hathcock’s second tour in Vietnam abruptly ended on September 16, 1969, when he was riding an assault vehicle that struck a 500-pound mine near the South Vietnamese village of Que-Son. Despite being covered with flaming gasoline that burned him almost beyond recognition, he returned to the vehicle and rescued seven marines. He refused a recommendation for a Medal of Honor for this heroic act but was awarded a belated Silver Star in 1996. After recovering from the burns, he served for another ten years, training USMC snipers until his forced medical retirement in 1979; he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975.
After battling multiple sclerosis for over twenty-five years, Hathcock died on February 22, 1999. He is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia.
A 1986 biography of Hathcock titled Marine Sniper by Charles Henderson has sold over a half million copies. The USMC award for most outstanding marksman bears the name Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock II, as does the USMC library in Washington DC.
I feel it’s important to remember great shooters and especially veterans. These men made history.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Benefits of Dry Fire

How much time at the range do you get? Is it enough to keep your skills up? Do you dry fire? If so, how much time do you devote to that?
These are tough questions that you should answer honestly. It doesn’t matter whether you hunt, compete, or carry for self-defense you should be training. Dry fire is a good, cost effective training tool. But I have to admit, it’s no fun! I don’t dry fire enough and I know I don’t get to the range as much as I want. (That would be daily!)

At a minimum, dry firing, even without a specific drill in mind, builds up your familiarity with that firearm’s trigger, and that is a worthy goal. This is especially beneficial for handgun and rifle shooters who will need to exercise good trigger control under pressure. When your fingers are numb during a late-season deer hunt or while you are trying to run a clean stage during a pistol match, that practice will pay dividends.

Beyond trigger control, what can dry firing do for you?

By practicing with your scoped hunting rifle you can learn to call your shots. Hold your sights on a target that is small enough so that you cannot readily keep your crosshairs centered on it. As the sights wobble, which they always do, practice breaking the shot at the correct moment. This will develop trigger control, point out flaws in your shooting posture (this is great to do from the kneeling, sitting and off-hand positions), and train you to recognize where your crosshairs were at the exact moment the trigger clicked.

With a handgun, you can practice your presentation to the target from the holster and work on the all-important front-sight focus.

Shotgunners can do the “flashlight drill,” where you place a small Maglite flashlight in the barrel of your shotgun and, while watching the spot the light throws on the wall, practice your mount and swing, which should be done simultaneously. Make the light follow along the seam between a wall and your ceiling. Visualize that seam as the flight path for a clay target or bird. Before you start your mount, pick the spot along that seam where you want to hit your target. Do the drill so that your swing and mount come together right at that spot. Once the shotgun hits your shoulder there should only be the barest hesitation before you pull the trigger.

Another great benefit to dry firing is firearms manipulation. Whether running the bolt on your rifle, practicing reloads with a semiauto pistol or shotgun, or learning to control the safety on your AR, dry firing can help out.

If you conceal carry you can practice presentation from concealment and of course, aim and trigger control.

These are only a few ideas of how dry fire can help. All of the great shooters I know dry fire quite regularly. Most good training programs are heavy on the dry fire side.
I use an air soft gun that is a replica of my carry weapon. It helps to have a replica for trigger, aim, manipulation, presentation, and magazine change. Not all training weapons will give you all those things, which is why I like air soft.
Train on!

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Monday, May 18, 2015

Reason For Self-Defense

Why am I such a proponent of self-defense? I profess to be a follower of Christ and Christ taught love. I agree with this but to have the freedom that all children of God should have, we must defend that freedom. Satan would have all us be slaves and under his power. Guns are the best defense we have of assuring this country, or any country, has their liberty. Listen to what famous and infamous leaders have said concerning our right to have a gun.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe it is the duty of every member of the church to defend freedom. If a member is not into guns I understand. But they should recognize the importance of the population to own the tools to defend themselves. Those members who are liberal should be careful who and what they are supporting. I believe we will be held accountable for what cause we supported, regardless of politics.

What statesman say:

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from his government.”
—Thomas Paine, Founding Father
“A free people ought to be armed.” —George Washington, Founding Father
To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.”
—George Mason, Founding Father
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny in government.” —Thomas Jefferson
”The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
Samuel Adams
”Distrust and caution are the parents of security.”
Benjamin Franklin
“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.”
George Washington
”Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
James Madison
“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.”
Samuel Adams
“By calling attention to ‘a well regulated militia,’ ‘the security of the nation,’ and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms,’ our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy… The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.”
John F. Kennedy, April 1960
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Benjamin Franklin
What detractors say:
“Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext, with the view of confiscating them and leaving the population defenseless.” — Vladimir Lenin
“If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.” — Joseph Stalin
“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out-right ban, picking up every one of them… ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in,’ I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t there.”
—Dianne Feinstein, Senator (D-CA), 1995
“I believe in Americans right to bear arms… the fact is, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible... but I am also betting that a vast majority of gun owners agree that we should keep a small few from owning a high-capacity weapon of war.” —Barack Obama, President of the United States
“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.” — Mao Tse Tung
“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own fall.” — Adolf Hitler

“We must brainwash people on guns. We just have to be repetitive about this. It’s not enough to have a catchy ad on a Monday and then only do it every Monday. We have to do this every day of the week and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”
—Eric Holder, United States Attorney, 1995
"Armas para que?" ("Guns, for what?")
-- Fidel Castro, a response to a Cuban citizens who said the people might need to keep their guns, after Castro announced strict gun control in Cuba
“We're here to tell the NRA their nightmare is true! We're going to hammer guns on the anvil of relentless legislative strategy. We're going to beat guns into submission! Charles Schumer U.S. Representative (D-NY) quoted on NBC nightly news 1993-11-30 We're going to hammer guns on the anvil of relentless legislative strategy! We're going to beat guns into submission! Charles Schumer U.S. Representative quoted on NBC 1993-12-08 Like flat earth fanatics, Second Amendment fanatics just don't get it. Facts are facts. The earth is not flat. And Constitutional law is Constitutional law. The Second Amendment is not absolute. It does not guarantee the mythical individual right to bear arms we will hear argued for today. The gun lobby and its friends in Congress can line up professors of history and law from here to NRA headquarters and back. They can all swear what they think the Second Amendment means, and how many angels can dance on a pinhead. But the settled law is flatly against them.” -- Charles Schumer U.S. Representative (D-NY) statement before the House Subcommittee on Crime 1995-04-05
Apparently Mr. Schumer doesn’t agree with the highest court in the land. Makes me grateful he’s not a judge because he can’t seem to interpret the constitution correctly.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) - The Court ruled the Second Amendment to reference an individual right, holding:
"The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home

Politicians and mainstream media would have the general public believe lies about guns rather than facts.
I would hope that good people, Mormons or not, would actually look into the facts before deciding that we as Americans should or should not defend ourselves.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Remembering John Dean "Jeff" Cooper

John Dean "Jeff" Cooper
10 May 1920 - 25 September 2006
The Father of The Modern Technique
Rest in Peace
Jeff Cooper is recognized as the father of what is commonly known as "The Modern Technique" of handgun shooting, and considered by many to be the world's foremost expert on the use and history of small arms.

Born John Dean Cooper, but known to his friends as "Jeff", Cooper was a former Marine Lt. Colonel who served in World War II and in Southeast Asia during the Korean War. In addition to his expertise in firearms, he was a history instructor, philosopher, adventurer, and author. He is also known as "the Guru."

In 1976 Cooper founded the American Pistol Institute (API, also known as "Gunsite") in northern Arizona to train law enforcement and military personnel, as well as law-abiding civilians. He sold the firm in 1989 but continued living on the ranch. He was well-known for his cogent and thoroughly researched advocacy of large caliber handguns for personal defense, especially the 1911 Colt.

Cooper died peacefully at his home on the afternoon of Monday, September 25, 2006.

The Modern Technique

Cooper's modern technique defines pragmatic use of the pistol for personal protection. The modern technique emphasizes two-handed shooting using the Weaver stance, replacing the once-prevalent one-handed shooting. The five elements of the modern technique are:
• A large-caliber handgun, preferably a semi-auto pistol.
• The Weaver stance;
• Flash sight picture;
• Compressed breath;
• Surprise break (of the trigger)
Cooper favors the Colt M1911 and its variants. There are several conditions of readiness in which such a weapon can be carried. Cooper promulgated the following terms:
• Condition One: A round chambered, hammer cocked, safety on;
• Condition Two: A round chambered, hammer down;
• Condition Three: Chamber empty.
• Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine.
Some of these configurations are safer than others (for instance, a single action pistol without a firing pin safety ought never be carried in Condition 2) while others are quicker to access (condition 1). In the interest of consistent training, most agencies that issue the 1911 specify the condition in which it is to be carried as a matter of local doctrine.

Combat Mindset

The most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation is, according to Cooper, neither the weapon nor the martial skills. The primary tool is the combat mindset, set forth in Principles of Personal Defense.
In the chapter on awareness, Cooper explains a simple system to differentiate states mindset:
• White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my gosh! This can't be happening to me."
• Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says "I am alert." You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you should be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "I thought this might happen someday." You cannot live in this state indefinitely, sleep and concentrating on specific tasks (reading a good book) reset you to White.
• Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is "wrong" with a person or object. Your mindset is that "I may have to shoot that person." In orange you set a fight trigger: "If that goblin does "x", I will need to "stop" them." You check that you are prepared for action. Your pistol is usually holstered in this state.
• Red - The fight trigger has happened. You are now in action.
Some non-Cooper sources list a "Condition Black" as actively engaged in combat but this is an unnecessary step and is not in keeping with the mindset definitions.

Similar system have been use in some military and police organizations but their conditions relate to a level of danger rather than mindset.

Firearms safety

Cooper advocates four basic rules of gun safety.

1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

The Queen of personal weapons

Cooper is best known for his revolutionary work in pistol training, but he favors the rifle.
Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons.—Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely upon the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny, since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized. The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles. —Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle In the early 1980s, Cooper published an article describing his ideal of a general-purpose rifle, which he dubbed a Scout rifle. In the late 1990s, Steyr-Mannlicher produced a rifle to his "Scout" specifications, with Cooper's oversight during the engineering & manufacturing process. While not a sales success, Cooper considered the Steyr Scout "perfect" and often made the point that "I've got mine!"

In 2011 Strum-Ruger introduced the Gunsite Scout. To develop the Gunsite Scout, Ruger worked closely with Gunsite Training Center in the development of the rifle, in order to meet the criteria of the modern scout rifle set forth by Jeff Cooper. The rifle features a matte black receiver, a 16.5-inch cold-hammer forged alloy steel barrel, a forward mounted picatinny rail, a 3, 5, or 10-round detachable box magazine, a flash suppressor, an adjustable ghost-ring rear iron sight, a polymer trigger guard, and a black laminate wood stock with length-of-pull spacers.
Other contributions
In the 1960s he coined the term hoplophobia, an irrational fear of weapons.
In addition to his books on firearms and self-defense, Cooper has written several books recounting his life adventures plus essays and short stories, including Fire Works (1980), Another Country: Personal Adventures of the Twentieth Century (1992); To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth [1998]; and C Stories (2004). His daughter Lindy Wisdom published a biography, Jeff Cooper: the Soul and the Spirit (1996).

Cooper is also the world's foremost authority on big game hunting with the pistol. In 1965's "Complete Book of Shooting", he listed the five top pistol trophies as: European wild boar (Eurasia), Roosevelt elk (North America), jaguar (South America), saltwater crocodile (Australia-Oceania), and the gorilla (Africa). Of the latter he says, "Skipping the giants and the traditional, I'll choose the gorilla. ... If you threaten his group he will charge, and a charging gorilla is a fearful spectacle. To stand your ground with a handgun and flatten him at 15 feet is man's work."

Previous articles I have written mentioned Jeff's birthday on May 21st, this was an error, his birthday is May 10th.
I had the privilege od being taught by Jeff himself in the military. He was an amazing teacher and had so much sense and knowledge.

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Water Storage – Myth vs. Fact

This is the time of year most of the U.S. experience Summer. Water is most important in this season than in any other although, water is always important!
Myth #1: Water can expire
Water does not expire. Ever. Sure, water can become chemically or biologically contaminated and foul, but it doesn’t go bad or spoil.
What can happen to water is that it can go stale and look or taste bad. One thing you can do to make water that has been standing around for a while taste better is to aerate it by stirring it up or pouring it from one jug to another to introduce some oxygen.
If the cleanliness of the water is in question, it can be purified with purification tablets, fresh bleach, or a filtering system such as the Berkey or LifeStraw, among others.
Technically, if water is stored in a cool, dark area and away from chemical and toxic fumes, it should last forever.
Myth #2: Water can be stored in any old container that you find around the house
Water should be stored in a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container or in metallized bags. Traditionally, water storage barrels are blue. The reason for this is that the blue color limits light exposure and biological growth (bacteria and algae) and also signifies that what is stored in the container is safe for human consumption.
The safest containers to hold water in are polyethylene-based plastics, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. Most water barrels are made out of plastic #2 and are BPA-free. If you are in doubt, check with the manufacturer before making purchase, especially if the water is going to be used for drinking.
Don’t use milk jugs for water storage. Since milk jugs are biodegradable, they will break down over time. In addition, it is almost impossible to remove all of the milk sugars from the used jug, opening the risk of contamination.
On the other hand, repurposed soda or juice bottles (made from PETE plastic), make great water storage containers. Just be sure to rinse them well beforehand with a mild bleach solution. This will eliminate any soda or juice residue plus lingering odors.
Another good option for water storage is re-useable Nalgene bottles.
Myth #3: A water barrel is all you need to consider yourself water–prepared
This one is actually comical. I can just see you now: the flooding river is rising and you need to evacuate. Strap on your water barrel and your bug out bag and you are good to go. Not!
Depending on the number of people in your family and whether you have located or set aside a separate water source for hygiene and cleaning, 55 gallons is not going to last long. Conservatively, you are going to need one gallon of water per person per day.
It is always a good idea to have a portable water filter you can transport when you are on the go. In addition, rain barrels can be a great source of non-potable water for flushing and for use in the garden. Good sense dictates that you store water in various sized containers and plan for different situations such as bugging-out, sheltering-in-place, sanitation, and so on.
Myth #4: You can save space by stacking water barrels on top of each other
Most water barrels are not designed to be stacked. If space is limited, consider a stacking system designed to accommodate the weight of filled barrels.
Also, there are options other than barrels that can be stacked, these include water bricks, water in pouches, and even canned water.
Myth #5: Since I have a water purifier, I don’t need a water filter
According to the water specialists, water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water. Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for sheltering-in-place, and also great for treating water from your barrels or water you collect from streams or rivers while hiking.
Bleach is also a decent purified as long as it is fresh (less than a year old) and the unscented type.
Water purifiers alone will not remove dirt, silt, “gunk” and chemicals from your water. For these nasties, you need a filter. Using a purifier and filter together are an ideal combination to make sure your water is clean enough for drinking.
A Note About Storing Water Barrels
Did you know that water should not be stored on bare cement including the cement on the floor of your garage?
The reason for this is that plastics absorb flavors and odors from chemicals and liquids spilled on the floor and also from the chemicals used to create the concrete. What you need to do is store your water on a piece of wood that sits between the floor and the concrete. A repurposed wood pallet would be ideal, or just a square of plywood would work.
Actually this note could be called a ½ myth. Water should not be stored on cement that may be heated by sun or weather. It’s the heated cement that does it, but do you really know the temperature of your cement floor, wherever it is? Use a small barrier, but do it safely. Don’t try and balance 55 gallons of water!
Myth #6: I’ve got a pool out back for our water storage, so I don’t need to store any otherwise.
One who has this opinion is taking a big risk, one which I would not venture to take. It’s presuming that no animal waste, nuclear waste, or other biological poisoning will enter the pool water. Also, if there is a water shortage in your area, and your big pool is out there for all of the desperate folks to see, you’re simply begging for some dangerous self-defense scenarios. You might as well leave your car doors unlocked with your wallet on the front seat. In the event of a real emergency, I would ALWAYS recommend that families store water as well as presuming that their pool water supply will be available, thus preventing it from outdoor contaminates and ensuring that you have water to survive in the event of all possible scenarios.

Myth #7: Boil your water for 10 minutes in order for it to be safe.
Actually, you do not need to boil your water. Boiling the water is actually a waste of precious fuel. Water boils at 212 degrees. However, getting your water to a heat of 160 degrees for 30 minutes will kill all pathogens, and 185 degrees at for only 3 minutes. This is true even at a high altitude. (Note: My preferred way of heating water is in a solar oven. No fuel waste!)

Myth number 7 is always the one I get the most grief with. How long does it take to go from 185 degrees to 212 degrees, which is boiling? 1 minute? 3? I think your water will be fine at boiling. If you really want to trade fuel for peace of mind, then do so. I say if you’re really confident in the water bring it to a boil and use it. If you’re pretty sure it’s bad water, boil it for 1 minute. 1 minute is overkill but may give you the confidence you need to drink it.

Water is more precious than gold. Many western states are finding this out because they have no water. They have to buy it from those who do. If you were to overkill any part of your preparedness plan, I would pick water. Hungry people are is grave need, thirsty people are desperate. Remember the rule of threes,. You can last 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and three weeks without food.

Preparedness is essential. Water is the top resource. Make sure you are found lacking.

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Friday, May 1, 2015

Helping Someone Choose A Gun

I was at the range the other day (when am I NOT at the range?) when I heard a comment from the guy a few bays over. I’d heard it before… “You’re shooting that!?” I had just cranked off a magazine full so his perception was uncanny. Sorry for being sarcastic but I thought it was obvious what I was shooting. I won’t go into what gun it was. Suffice it to say it was a low end Smith and Wesson. Come to your own conclusions. Anyway, I’ve shot this gun for a good many years. It is very reliable. I know this because I’ve shot several thousand rounds through it and have had no problems at all. So when someone rags on this weapon I just smile. I actually own two of the same gun. They both are flawless. So when this guy was incredulous of my weapon choice I just let it happen. I’ve long since stopped trying to explain my choice and my experience with my guns. There are many who have asked for my advice on what weapon to buy. I have a shpeal all worked out to tell them. Because of the latest riots in Maryland I’ve had a few ask for my recommendation of a weapon. Sometimes this causes a problem for me. My weapons systems and gear have been acquired after years of experience and testing and training. They are right for me. They may not be right for you. So how do those experienced in weapons and self-defense offer intelligent advice to someone without unconsciously but inappropriately projecting our situation onto theirs?

Be Realistic
I would love to see every person who comes to me for advice about owning a gun be willing to put in as much time and effort into understanding the question of self-defense and firearms ownership as I have. I know that few, if any, ever will. I generally have some level of knowledge about the person asking the question and I can use a few simple exercises to figure out where they are in terms of commitment to help guide the answers that I give them. It's critical to be realistic about what you believe this person is willing and able to do if you want to be helpful. Don't project what you hope is true about them...assess what's really true about them and work from there.

Be Reasonable
While you want to give useful guidance, it's impossible to do that if you aren't willing to engage within at least some of the limits the person is dealing with. Just as an example, I personally don't care for the .380 ACP as a primary carry cartridge...but I recognize that there are people who have physical limitations that make shooting a weapon with better terminal ballistics painful or outright impossible. If I'm dealing with such a person I am not going to tell them that if they aren't packing a high-cap 9mm loaded with at least 16 hollow-points and a reload that they might as well give up. You're not shooting for ideal here, you're shooting for likely good enough. It's true that in many circumstances "good enough" is an excuse for low standards, but in many others good enough really is good in the best you can do under the constraints you are working with. A person who has no gun right now but who acquires and regularly carries a Beretta 21 next week has improved their situation considerably. No, it isn't ideal. It's better though, and that opens the door to further improvements down the road. Being dogmatic in the early stages, even if you believe you are doing the Lord's work at the time, often shuts the process down completely and alienates the person to boot.

Present options, not necessarily opinions
One of my favorite approaches to these sorts of questions is to bring the person asking to a gun store or the range and present them a number of different firearms that they can interact with. I like to present the firearm in a pretty agnostic way allowing them to lead the discussion with questions while I respond as factually as possible. At a recent range outing with a young couple looking for their first gun I pulled out several different handguns and let them experience all of them after a safety brief on each. As they were looking at a Glock 34 and the S&W M&P the male half asked "So from your description, these two seem very similar...what's the difference between them?" That's the kind of interaction I'm looking for. When I demonstrated take-down of both weapons mentioning that the Glock requires a trigger pull to disassemble, the male half asked "Wait, couldn't that be a problem?" Yes. It could be. That's exactly the sort of critical thinking I'm hoping for. When they understand that every weapon has its good points and bad points, and that their task is to choose the set of compromises that best suits their particular situation, they will achieve a happy result for themselves. That won't happen if I spend the whole time lecturing on why I’m anti-Glock (which I’m not). I may guide the conversation here or there and I will certainly clear up any outright factual errors encountered along the way, but I want their brain to be engaged. They, after all, have to live with their decision. What I like may not be what they need, and I have to be intelligent enough to get out of the way and let their needs drive the process.

Keep it fun
The subject matter is very serious, but that doesn't mean we have to wear sack cloth and ashes the whole time. You can have fun with guns, too. It's possible to make the process fun and interesting without compromising on the important parts like safe handling habits, proper marksmanship fundamentals, etc. Citing the young couple again, after familiarizing them with a number of different pistols I set up a little competition between them where they could use whatever pistols we had worked with up to that point to go against the other. This, from their perspective, was fun. It was also an introduction to using a gun under some level of stress with something on the line to loose. They enjoyed the experience AND learned a little bit about using a pistol under some level of stress at the same time. Win/win.

If I had my way I’d tell everyone to do what I do, buy what I buy, shoot like I shoot, but then they are not me. The best thing you can do if you want to teach independence is to present options and go over the pros and cons. Choice and personal taste is what makes the world go around. Long ago we fought for our own agency and won. Now we can choose. But to make a good choice we must have information. The best thing you can do is provide good, factual information. Not really opinion.

Thanks to Gun Nuts Media ( for the points for this article. I’d never really thought about putting it down this way.

There may be more that you would add to this list. But the gist of it is, when helping others with weapons or gear choices, give them some information to make their own decision. One of my sons owns a Bushmaster AR. Another son owns a Colt AR. Both choices were made with money influences. If money is no object all of us may make different choices. Sometimes we may buy a more expensive gun because we know how it performs. I love Rugers. I don’t think I’ve ever shot a Ruger I didn’t like. Because of this, my oldest son loves Rugers too. He had many years and many Rugers to shoot to come to that conclusion. Then he bought a Ruger LC9. He finally sold it because he had such a difficulty with the size. I don’t think it being a Ruger made a bit of difference; he just couldn’t handle the size with his big hands. In this case my influence over the years and his positive experience with a Ruger moved him to buy a sub-compact Ruger. He didn’t realize how shooting a sub-compact would be. Any sub-compact. So be careful what kind of advice you give.

Semper Paratus
Check 6